Why Dubai's new virtual visa could be the 'natural option' for Brits

Tourism chief Issam Kazim expects big demand from British expats for scheme to enable remote working professionals to live in Dubai while serving employers in the UK

The scheme, launched on October 14, enables overseas remote working professionals to live in Dubai while continuing to serve their employers in their home country.

Dubai’s newly launched virtual visa could be particularly ‘advantageous’ for British workers, according to the emirate’s tourism chief.

Issam Kazim (pictured below), CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTM), told Arabian Business there are “a number of factors at play” within the programme that could prove beneficial for British firms and professionals.

Dubai launches remote working programme for overseas professionals

Move provides remote workers – and their families – the opportunity to re-locate, on an annual basis, to the emirate

“Thanks to strong existing business links, many British companies already have a robust presence in Dubai,” he said. “The opportunity to work from the emirate may also facilitate partnerships and collaborations in the UAE and across the region.”

The scheme, launched on October 14, enables overseas remote working professionals to live in Dubai while continuing to serve their employers in their home country.

The programme allows remote workers and their families to re-locate, on an annual basis, to Dubai to avail of its lifestyle amenities and strong digital infrastructure.

“A high percentage of the British workforce continues to operate remotely, and we believe Dubai offers a viable option for those expecting to continue on that basis over the next year,” said Kazim.

Top source market

In recent years, the UK has consistently been one of Dubai’s top three source markets for international visitation – across business and leisure.

“A large British population already calls this city home, Dubai is a natural option for professionals from the UK looking to work remotely,” said Kazim.

The emirate, which opened itself to international tourists on July 7, has implemented robust safety and hygiene protocols which has enabled the reopening of most sectors and destination offerings across the city, including hotels, restaurants, attractions, water and theme parks, beaches, shopping malls and schools and universities.

Through the virtual visa programme, applicants can access all services in Dubai, including telecoms, utilities, and schooling. Applicants will also benefit from Dubai’s zero income tax for individuals.

“Fast-changing circumstances around the world are also creating uncertainly for many businesses, and we believe recognition of the strong leadership and consistent approach will also be appealing to British businesses and their employees,” Kazim added.

Digital nomads

Wes Schwalje (pictured below), COO of Dubai-based research and consulting firm Tahseen Consulting, said Dubai’s new digital nomad visa is targeted at British freelancers who want to “temporarily call the UAE home”.

“Whereas hot desks and small freezone packages for micro-enterprises have typically required office rentals and significant visa and other fees, the nomad visa provides much more flexibility in not requiring an office or forcing nomads to settle in a particular freezone or emirate. This means lower costs and more freedom to roam,” Schwalje said.

However, the COO said there are many countries competing for digital nomads, with a range of cost of living options and quality of soft infrastructure.

“Depending on accompanying family members and age, for example, some countries might offer higher quality healthcare or educational systems which could be more suited to more established entrepreneurs as opposed to young digital nomads who might be comfortable with WiFi, power socket, and a thatched hut on a tropical beach.”

How do I apply?

To apply for the annual programme, visit here.

The programme costs $287 plus medical insurance with valid UAE coverage and processing fee per person.

Criteria for eligibility under the new programme include:

  • Passport with minimum 6 months validity
  • Health insurance with UAE coverage validity
  • Proof of Employment from current employer with a one-year contract validity, a minimum of $5,000 per month salary, last month’s payslip and 3 preceding months’ bank statements
  • If the applicant is a company owner: proof of ownership of company for one year or more, with an average monthly income of $5,000 per month, and 3 preceding months’ bank statements

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